New study links gum disease to higher risks of some types of cancer

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A new study suggests that people with gum disease may be more susceptible to certain forms of cancer. 

Researchers discovered that people who have gum disease have a higher risk of developing some types of cancer, including oesophageal and gastric cancer. The findings of the study have been published in the journal, Gut. The research team from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health also found that individuals who had a history of tooth loss also had a higher risk of developing cancer. 

The team analysed data from decades of patient follow-ups, assessing dental health, lifestyle choices, diet and demographics. The researchers found that after 22-28 years of analysis, there were 199 cases of oesophageal cancer and 238 cases of gastric cancer. Gum disease was associated with a 43% increase in oesophageal cancer risk and a 52% increase in gastric cancer risk. Individuals who had lost two or more teeth were also more likely to develop these forms of cancer. Tooth loss increased the risk of oesophageal cancer by 42% and gastric cancer by 33%. 

Scientists suggest that the findings of the study underline the importance of the “oral microbiome in oesophageal and gastric cancer.” Now, researchers are keen to build on this project to find out more about the relationship between gum disease and cancer and to identify specific bacteria, which are linked to elevated cancer risk. The Harvard team believes that further studies could provide important information, which will help to identify patients who could be more vulnerable to different types of cancer.

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